Hi-Tech 1/48 Roland D.II

KIT: Hi-Tech 1/48 Roland D.II
KIT #: 006
PRICE: $28.00 when new, now OOP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Kyle Bodily
NOTES: Short Run

HISTORY

Because of the success of the Roland C.II the powers that be decided a smaller single seat version of the Walfisch would be successful and so the Roland D.I Shark or Haifisch was born.  In spite of its smooth lines and aerodynamic appearance it just never seemed to succeed as a front line fighter.  In an attempt to make it more user friendly the original D.I airframe was modified to the D.II and later the D.IIa. 

Since the excellent 160 hp Mercedes engines were prioritized to the Albatros fighters the Roland D.II got the relatively poorer 180 hp Argus engine.  If this was not bad enough the Haifisch had the same problem with aerodynamic interference between the top and bottom wings.  Since the top and bottom wings were closer then the wing chord, the wing had a tendency to enter a stall state between the wings.  It behaved poorly in turns, in fact if you turned too tight the aircraft would suddenly enter a spin.

 The Roland D.I was at the front from October 1916 to June 1917 and the Roland D.II saw four months of front line service from April to June of 1917.  But that is not as important as the fact that Pfalz was contracted to build about 220 airframes.  When Pfalz had completed their contract of Rolands they took the knowledge of the Roland streamlined fuselage improved it and started to build the Pfalz D.III and the Pfalz D.III.  At its peak they constituted 25% of German front line fighters  

THE KIT

First things first.  Hi-Tech is a limited run company with all the accompanying down falls and advantages.  The downfalls are that the cockpit is somewhat sparse and needs some detail work.  The parts need some fitting and work to insure that they all fit together.  You will find no such luxuries as locater pins and you will notice some symmetrical problems.  But thatís why we have body putty and plastic stock.  That is how youíll get it to all fit together.

 The big plus with this kit is that you just wonít find this aircraft in a mainstream kit. I know of no other company that has attempted this model in a 1/48th scale injection molded plastic kit.  In the end this is the biggest reason to get a short run kit.  The next biggest reason that I like limited run kits is the sense of accomplishment I get when I finish. 

 They are also about the same price as the newer mainstream kits.  A few years back you could expect to spend three to four times the cost of a mainstream kit to purchase one of these limited run kits.  In recent years the price of many of the mainstream kits has increased to where they are in line with their limited run brethren.  In other words the limited run handmade kits seem to have remained constant while the mass produced mainstream kits have gone up in price.

 The kit itself is basically simple with a rudimentary cockpit and a surprisingly well done exterior.  The finish is some what pebbly.  I think all the Hi-Tech kits that Iíve built had the same finish but this is taken care of with a coat of paint.

 The instructions are to say the least VAGUE.  But they are the same as all other Hi-tech kits that Iíve built.  The key here is to get the Datafile or borrow one from someone who has one.

 The decals look good and look to be in register.  Iíve never had problems with Hi-tech decals so I donít expect any here.

 As limited run kits go I would say that this one fits firmly right in the middle. Not the worst but certainly not the best.

CONSTRUCTION

WOW, OKÖ I started with the cockpit and engine, pretty normal right.  But this kit has a very rudimentary cockpit.  This is where the Windsock Datafile is indispensable.  What I did was use the pictures that I could find and some of the information we have on the Pfalz D.III.  Since the cockpits of these two aircraft and even the construction were very similar I could use all this information to make a convincing Roland D.II cockpit. 

 I liked the way the engine looked in the kit but I found the cylinders too big for the engine block.  I had to do some work to get it to fit together but it finally worked.  As I was test fitting the fuselage halves together I found that they were off a little.  So I held the halves together with a few tacks of model glue and began to make all the openings and body parts fit.  After, I was happy I popped the parts apart and fit all the innards in the body.  Once again all the innards had to be worked into place and glued with regular model glue and super glue. 

 Once I got the body together the rest seemed to go a little more smoothly with the exception of working the wings so the struts would line up and that they would have the slight rake.  Another reason to get yourself the Datafile. 

COLORS & MARKINGS

The kit came with only one set of decals so that is the aircraft I built.  I painted it in the standard red brown and green camouflage pattern of the time with a sky blue bottom.  The kit decals went on great with no problems.

 The propeller was painted light tan and then I hand painted the laminations with leather brown to give it that composite look.

 As for the rigging, nothing much here.  The aircraft had simple cross bracing.  I just drilled small holes (#80 drill bits) half way through the upper wing.  I drill the holes in the bottom wing all the way through.  I then anchor the monofilament thread in the top wing and after it has dried, threaded it through the bottom wing and set it with a drop of super glue.  When this has dried I clip the thread and apply the decals.  Most of the time the decals cover up the holes that I used for rigging.  If not I apply some touch up paint to the model.

 For the weathering I like to use water based paint that I thin down till it is almost water.  I like to layer it until I get the desired greasiness 

CONCLUSIONS

This was a challenging model of an aircraft that I donít expect to see in a mainstream kit any time soon.  Even if it was produced in the future I donít think that the mainstream manufacturers could come close to what I paid for it at my local hobby shop.  This kit is out of production now and Iíve not seen it very often on ebay and Iíve never seen it at a model show at the model seller tables.  I guess that is why I buy any limited run kits I want when I can and why my stash is so large.  

REFERENCES

ďWindsock Datafile #47 LFG Roland D.IIĒ Albatros Productions LTD
ďJaneís All the Worlds Aircraft 1917Ē (Janeís Fighting Aircraft of World War I)

Kyle Bodily

July 2008

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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